October 20, 2017

5 Days in the Denver Area // A First Timer’s Colorado Itinerary for Maximum Adventure

Colorado is the perfect place to visit if you’re seeking adventure. From hiking, to rock climbing, to whitewater rafting or mountain biking, everything is within your reach. And with only 5 days in the Denver area, you can get a lot of adventure in. Just keep reading to see how you can have the perfect Colorado itinerary!

Mountain Vista Addie Rocky Mountain National Park

The Logistics of Your Colorado Itinerary

Getting There

Unless you’re roadtripping, you’ll most likely be flying into Denver International Airport. Flights within America aren’t cheap, so start searching early and often to grab a good deal.

If you don’t want to rent a car, you can take the train from the Airport to Denver Union Station for $9 each way. From there, you can access plentiful public transportation services to get you to your final destination. Check denver.org for more information.

Where to Stay

Although this Colorado itinerary will be taking you all around the Denver area (meaning that it might mean slightly less transportation time to change hotels every night), I highly suggest that you base yourself in or nearby Denver as a convenience. While I was in Colorado I stayed with a friend in Littleton, a suburb of Denver, and it was a great base for exploring the rest of the area.

How to Get Around

I highly suggest renting a car if at all possible while you’re in Colorado. Although it is theoretically possible to get around with public transport, it takes up much more time and could potentially be even more expensive than renting a car. This Colorado itinerary takes you all over the place (most places are a 1+ hour drive), so a car will make your life much, much easier.

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Five Days in Colorado Itinerary

Day One

One Day in Boulder, Colorado

Start your time in Colorado off right by getting up bright and early and driving towards Boulder. There, you’ll get a real taste of everything that Colorado has to offer: from hiking, to excellent food and culture, to hippie tea. For more insight on a day in Boulder, check out my post about what I did.

Go Hiking in Eldorado Canyon State Park

Addie in Eldorado Canyon State Park, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Spend your morning just outside of Boulder at Eldorado Canyon State Park, popular with the locals for hiking. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, go for the strenuous Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, which climbs to the elevation of the Empire State Building and gives you amazing views over the continental divide.

Visit the Celestial Seasonings Factory

Celestial Seasonings Tea Samples

If you got an early start to your day (like I told you to 😉 ), then you should be able to make it for one of Celestial Seasonings’ factory tours with plenty of time to spare. While you’re there, learn all about how this famous herbal tea brand (and their tea) came to be, and try loads of free samples along the way. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?

Enjoy Pearl Street

Boulder Pearl Street Buffalo

Finally, make your way back into downtown Boulder and waste away your evening on Pearl Street. Grab some dinner, go shopping, and enjoy the plentiful street performances. If you haven’t fallen in love with Boulder by the end of the day, you probably don’t have a soul.

Get 10 awesome & easy tips on how to improve your travel photography! Click here.

Day Two

One Day in Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods

Perkins Central Garden Trail Garden of the Gods Colorado Springs

If you’re feeling exhausted after your first full day in Colorado, feel free to sleep in a bit this morning. Once you’re up and ready to go, head to Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs to check out the famous red rock formations. You’ll agree that they were put there by gods.

One thing you can’t miss while you’re there is the Perkins Central Garden Trail, which gets you up close and personal with the largest rocks in the Garden of the Gods. If you have more time, explore/hike the outer edges of the park.

For more information, check out my post about my time at Garden of the Gods.

Dinner and Exploring in Downtown Colorado Springs

Once you’ve gotten your fill of otherworldly rocks, head into downtown Colorado Springs. Explore the quaint old mining town and grab dinner at one of the restaurants in the vicinity.

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Day Three

Whitewater Rafting in Idaho Springs

AVA Whitewater Rafting Idaho Springs Colorado

Take a break from all the hiking in the middle of your five days in Colorado and go whitewater rafting! If you thought you’d had adventure yet, just wait. I highly suggest going with AVA Whitewater Rafting in Idaho Springs. Hear why in my post all about how I beat a little bit of my anxiety with them.

Day Four

Explore Downtown Denver

Skyline of Downtown Denver, Colordo

You’ve spent most of your time in Colorado so far out in the wilderness loving all of the adventure that this state offers. Now, head into Denver (or stay where you are if that’s where you’ve based yourself) and explore the Mile High City. Walk down 16th Street Mall and play one of the beautiful pianos, go to a museum, and perhaps walk more than you did on any of your hikes in the days before. Oh, and be sure to grab yourself some Voodoo Doughnuts. You deserve it after all that hiking.

For even more ideas on what to do in Denver, check out this awesome local’s guide to Denver!

Get 10 awesome & easy tips on how to improve your travel photography! Click here.

Day Five

One Day in Estes Park

On your final day in Colorado, make your way to Estes Park for the best hiking yet — and a few ghosts.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Mountain Emerald Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

Spend your morning experiencing Rocky Mountain National Park in all of its glory. If you’re a hiker, be sure to hike the Emerald Lake Trail to get a taste of everything that the park has to offer. From alpine lakes to snow topped peaks, you’ll be blown away at every turn.

For more information, check out my post about hiking the Emerald Lake Trail.

You Might Also Like: Finding Radiance in the Rocky Mountains // Hiking Emerald Lake Trail

The Stanley Hotel

Freelan Oscar Stanley Hotel Statue

Do you believe in ghosts? If not, you’ll leave the Stanley Hotel a full blown believer. Best known as the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining, the ghost stories here are pretty crazy. If you’re brave, take their nighttime tour. Otherwise, go for the daytime history tour — you’ll get plenty of ghosts there as well. Just with more daylight.

For more information of the Stanley Hotel Ghost Tour check out my post on my visit.

And there you have it! The perfect Colorado itinerary for five days! Be sure to let me know if you do anything that I’ve suggested — I’d love to hear all about it!

Pit it for later

Want to have the best time ever with only a limited amount of time in Colorado? Check out this five day Colorado Itinerary for ultimate adventure in the Denver area. Go hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, Visit Boulder, See the Garden of the Gods, Visit the Stanley Hotel, and go Whitewater Rafting in Idaho Springs. Check it out!
Get 10 awesome & easy tips on how to improve your travel photography! Click here.

The comments +

  1. Gibbers

    October 21st, 2017 at 7:24 am

    So many bucket items in one post! lol I’m jealous, would love to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and also go white water rafting!

  2. Sarah

    October 21st, 2017 at 9:22 am

    I have been reading more and more about Colorado lately and it seems right up my alley with all the parks and hiking! Think I’ll have to save my trip for the summer though as I’m not much of a skier ;P

  3. Michelle

    October 22nd, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    My brother lives in Denver, so I’m there all the time. I love Estes Park and Bolder. There are so many great shops and restaurants. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Mona

    February 28th, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Hi there, I live in Colorado, and I just wanted to say that I think you mean Littleton, not Littlerock ?

  5. Addie

    March 2nd, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Wow, you’re totally right *facepalm* Thanks for the heads up!

  6. Dinosaur River Expeditions

    March 15th, 2018 at 4:20 am

    Thank you for this very informative post. I bet whitewater rafting is the best activity for the thrill-seeking squads.

  7. Addie

    March 18th, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    It definitely is!

  8. The Travel Team

    March 29th, 2018 at 1:30 am

    Great itinerary. This is the perfect place to be roamed by our beloved travelers. Thank you so much for this post.

  9. The Travel Team

    March 29th, 2018 at 1:35 am

    Great itinerary. This is the perfect place to be roamed by our beloved travelers. Thank you so much for this very insightful post.

  10. Sandy E.

    June 24th, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Addie – My husband and I spent 6 days in Denver earlier this month and had the BEST time–thanks in large part to your blog! We used it as the framework for our trip and it was awesome. The link to the “Ultimate Denver Locals guide” was also invaluable. We went to Red Rocks, Boulder, Celestial Seasonings and took a Segway tour of downtown Denver–to name just a few! Thanks so much for your guidance!

  11. Addie

    June 24th, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Ahh that’s so amazing! I’m glad you guys had so much fun 🙂

  12. Betsy

    July 7th, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Denver local here! I heartily agree with your blog. You are seeing/experiencing some of the best of Colorado. I would add Red Rocks to that list. The amphitheater, music hall of fame, hiking trails, and views. Incredible!
    Your website is beautiful by the way!!

  13. Addie

    July 7th, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks! I was lucky enough to have a local to show me around, so I feel like I got the best of everything 🙂 I’m really bummed I missed out on Red Rocks though!

  14. Jennifer Lantry

    October 4th, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I have 5-6 days off at the end of October. How is the weather then?

  15. Addie

    October 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Looks like it should be pretty cold then!

  16. Hannah

    February 15th, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    How would weather in March change this itinerary? I’m going in a few weeks and looking for things to do.

  17. Addie

    March 25th, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    There’s likely to still be a lot of snow up in the mountains!

  18. Nichole

    April 25th, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    March is our snowiest month usually. It can make getting around difficult. I hope you had a good visit!

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